Warning: Cookbook Rant Ahead!


Photo by Allison Beuker.


5 signs that the baking cookbook you are reading is terrible:

1) Comes with an insert from the publisher about all the errors, including inconsistencies in weights of flour and sugar (making every recipe you want to try involve a math problem); AND the recipe yields for no fewer than 5 recipes are incorrect; AND adjustments are required in technique for 2 recipes INCLUDING the basic vanilla buttercream that is a linchpin in most of the frostings.

2) Requiring a 6 x 3 round cake pan when the standard round pan in most all kitchens is 8″ or 9″. That might not be a big deal but the batter recipes are all formulated for 6″ and no notes about what to do volume-wise if you want to make a 9″ layer cake. Arrg.

3) The first step in the recipe is to look at ANOTHER cake recipe in the book and bake that and freeze it. Then the next 18 steps are make simple syrup, lemon curd, lemon buttercream, slice your 6″ cakes into 4 layers….(head spinning now.)

4) Most of the recipes require you to start 2-4 days ahead. (What?!)

5) List of NECESSARY equipment according to the REQUIRED reading in the intro includes: heavy-duty stand mixer w paddle and whisk attachments (check), microwave (check), medium and fine mesh sieves (well, one of of 2 check), bain marie (I can makeshift one, check), double-boiler (nope but could try to makeshift one), several heatproof rubber spatulas (have only 2, check), a supply of disposable cardboard cake boards (WTF!), a spackle blade (WTF!!), and the absolutely essential revolving cake stand with a note from the author that no way, no how will your cake look like the picture unless you have one of these to cut your layers and frost/spackle.

O good God–forget it!

4 thoughts on “Warning: Cookbook Rant Ahead!

  1. Right there with you! Those are classic red flags. The less obvious ones, yet somehow more annoying because you only find out about them when you are in the middle of the process, include missing steps and inexact or under-described characteristics that you should be looking for throughout the process.

    Sounds like your next project is to write your own cookbook, without any of the annoying mistakes.

    I have to agree that I am curious to know what particular book you were referring, but my guess is that it is an amalgam. Thanks for the fun read!

    • I don’t want to call out the book, because to be fair, the author does give explicit warnings in the introduction that you will need special equipment and they do things a special way to achieve the look of their cakes. And yes, I’ve encountered the same kinds of mistakes and sloppy, incorrect, or vague instructions in other cookbooks. In future posts I’ll be highlighting some of the ALL-TIME BEST cookbooks in my collection–the ones that never fail to work and delight.

  2. That’s gonna be a post to check out!!! I’ll definitely want to chime in with a favorite of mine these days. Looking forward to it!

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